PAWTUCKET — The city of Pawtucket has a milestone birthday coming up and a committee has come up with a high-tech way to celebrate that would make even Samuel Slater proud.
Pawtucket was incorporated in 1886 and city leaders and a group of business professionals have formed a committee to plan a whopper of a 125th anniversary celebration.
Key to the party will be a Pawtucket Red Sox game on Tuesday, August 23 and a special pre- and post-game show that combines elements of history, music, and dazzling spectacle, and also serves as a fundraiser for the Pawtucket Fireworks Committee.
The centerpiece of the Aug. 23 celebration at McCoy Stadium is an elaborate laser light show that will take place following the ballgame between the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Syracuse Chiefs.
The state-of-the art laser show, which is choreographed to music, promises to light up the city's nighttime sky in a rainbow of colors that will delight viewers of all ages.
Another important part of the event is a video “tribute” to the city which will be presented on the right field video board. The video will feature long-forgotten photos and memorable scenes from the city's past and continue with images up to the present day.
Other planned entertainment includes dancers, singers and local performers, plus a march of Pawtucket Hall of Fame inductees. State and local government leaders and other dignitaries will be also invited to participate. Gates will open at 5 p.m. with the pre-game festivities starting at 6:15 p.m. (game time is 7:05 p.m.). The laser spectacular will begin following the ballgame.
The main sponsors of the event are the Pawtucket Credit Union, Lifetime Medical and Blackstone Valley Community Health Care.
The Pawtucket Times, which began publishing in 1885, a year before the city's incorporation, will be a key media sponsor for the celebration along with 92 PRO FM.
Douglas Hadden, director of constituent services and communications for Mayor Donald Grebien, said that when the mayor learned it was the city's 125th year, he wanted to plan something special that the entire community could enjoy. The opportunity to combine the historical celebration with the city's beloved PawSox and also with a benefit to raise money for the annual July 3 fireworks display evolved through various discussions, Hadden said.
Mayor Donald Grebien said, “We thought the 125th anniversary of the official beginning of Pawtucket as an incorporated city afforded us an excellent opportunity to recognize our past, celebrate where we are today and look forward with hope and optimism to our future.”
The mayor added, “It's a very positive moment for the city, and it's gratifying how quickly our sponsors and community partners signed on with their support. It's that kind of community spirit that has always made Pawtucket a special place and it's the kind of spirit we will see at this great event.”
“The commemorative video, local entertainers and dignitaries will make for a historic evening, and the laser show will be a unique and exciting way to top off our 125th anniversary celebration. I urge everyone to reserve space on their calendar for August 23 at McCoy Stadium and come join us,” said Grebien.
Hadden also noted that the Aug. 23 event gives a nod to both the city's past, with the video tribute that is being created by members of The Pawtucket Foundation and the Preservation Society of Pawtucket, as well as its future, with the techno-inspired laser light show. “It will be like a Pawtucket 'yesterday, today and tomorrow' theme with a looking forward for the city as symbolized by the futuristic laser show,” said Hadden.
Hadden added that the celebration committee is looking for photos and historical information on any city businesses or organizations that have been in existence since 1886. Anyone with such information is asked to contact Hadden at Pawtucket City Hall at 728-0500, ext. 358.
PawSox President Mike Tamburro said the celebration committee has been meeting for a month in an effort to come up with an event that pays homage to Pawtucket, the home of the PawSox since 1970. “This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate a significant event in the city's history. We want to make it as special as we can, and we invite as many members of the community as possible to come out and participate,” he said. He added that people should be sure to come out to McCoy Stadium early so as not to miss any of the pre-game fun.
Ticket prices, which include admission to the ballgame as well as the laser show and other pre-and post-game festivities, cost $11 for box seats, $7 for regular seats and $5 for children and seniors. Tickets can be purchased on-line at www.pawsox.com  or by calling 401-724-7300.